60% of Black households report ‘serious financial problems’ due to virus: study

Half of all households reported financial strain during the pandemic, but its impact has affected Blacks and Latinos most.

Minority households are bearing an unequal portion of the burden of the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic in America. 

A new survey from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health explores COVID-19’s impact on families’ finances and their ability to maintain not just their profit margins, but the infrastructure of their daily lives.

While many Black Americans have long depended on charities, food banks and nonprofits to meet their nutritional needs, the Covid-19 pandemic has only multiplied the number of hungry experiencing food insecurity. Here, New York church volunteers distribute food in July.
(Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Dr. Robert Blendon, professor of Public Health and Political Analysis at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, compared the experience to being caught in a hurricane: “(If) your house didn’t have a strong foundation to begin with. And now the roof is collapsing. And there’s not enough cushion being provided. Now you’re in much greater trouble.”

The study found that 72 percent of Latino households, 60 percent of Black households and 55 percent of Native American hosehoulds are suffering “serious financial problems” in the midst of and directly due to the COVID-19 outbreak. 

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The crisis has disproportionately affected minority communities, accounting for more than 36% of deaths from the coronavirus. 

Of those younger than 18 years old killed by COVID-19, more than 75% are Hispanic, Black and American Indian children, even though they represent 41% of the U.S. population. 

“The magnitude of the impact is stunning,” Dr. Richard Besser, president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, told ABC News. “In pre-COVID America, millions of people were living paycheck to paycheck. But that living on the edge is not spread evenly across the nation. These issues intersect; they’re not separate.”

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ABC News conducted a study in New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago and Houston and found that at least half of all households reported financial strain during the pandemic. However, the impact has been shown to still be disproportionately affecting Black and Latino households and all households with incomes under $100,000. 

“We hear those PSAs that say we’re all in this together,” said Dr. Blendon. “It turns out, that’s not correct: What we see in the survey is if you earn less, every increment down, you have more troubles. And if you’re Latino or Black, your problems are dramatically more serious.”

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